Disasters, whether natural or manmade, can be devastating and hazardous to the affected communities. Disasters cause environmental interference, loss of human life, creates health service problems, and loss of livelihood. Tennessee State is not a stranger to tornados, thus, Montgomery County should always be armed with nurse professionals who can handle such disaster. Although natural disasters can hardly be prevented, the state can institute strategies to lessen the spread of health risk and casualties by utilizing public health nurses. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate how public health nurses can prepare and respond to a tornado in Montgomery County, TN.
How Nurses Should Respond to A Tornado
A tornado is a form of disaster that leads to a widespread disruption of environment, loss of property, loss of lives, and distress to the affected communities. Tornadoes are quite common in the US, owing to the geographical position of the country, and lack of large mountains that can obstruct airflow from the tropics and arctic regions. The damage instilled by tornadoes varies with their intensity. Tornadoes hardly follow a conventional route, as they do not cover the whole ground. Tornadoes result in injuries from flying debris, collapsing of structures, loss of lives, and burying of health hazards in the debris. People who are affected by a tornado suffer from mental illnesses due to deprivation of income and loss of their homes (Forchuk, Csiernik & Jensen, 2011).
Tornadoes harbor serious health implications that require urgent responses. The debris thrown by a tornado can contribute to the spread of bacteria or viruses, which could thrive due to the disaster. Most of the victims of a tornado report bleeding, head injuries, bruises, and wounds. When the response agencies fail to clear the debris on time, they may create breeding places for flies and other organisms that may contribute in the spread of diseases. Most Americans have connection with their pets, and when such pets die during the disaster, their owners may undergo psychological suffering, which could trigger more health problems.
Professional nurses can utilize their knowledge to counter a tornado in Montgomery County. Professional nurses are trained to handle disasters through offering emergency services that include treating wounds, evacuating victims, and undertaking a vaccination exercise to prevent the outbreak of communicable diseases. Nurses have significant experience in handling natural disasters, and they can link up with non-governmental organizations to offer relief to disaster victims (Cherry & Jacob, 2016). Clinical nurse specialists have the aptitude to handle disaster victims because they are trained handle almost all types of patients. Nurse specialists are utilized in the community to enhance the health status of families and individuals who are vulnerable to health hazards (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Public health nurses can attend patients in their homes by prescribing them medicines and ensuring that they are not vulnerable to communicable diseases. Thus, during a tornado event, public health nurses can visit victims of the disaster in their temporary settlements and advise them on how to maintain their health.
The community health nurses are the first responders who can assess the needs of the residents, in addition to assuring them that the government will take the responsibility of repairing the damaged houses. Registered nurses can collaborate with BSN nurses to handle complex cases during the disaster management. BSN nurses tend be more knowledgeable on health matters because they have more experience in terms of education and work. BSN nurses are capable of making quick decisions in case of life-threatening situations; hence, they can complement the role of registered nurses in attending to the affected victims. BSN nurses can assist in designing and coordinating a comprehensive plan for individuals who suffer serious injuries during disasters. Such professionals can also monitor the registered nurses as they attend to the victims in the hospital setup, in addition to teaching patients on how to maintain their health after discharge.
An emergency response to a tornado requires a combination of the nursing practice, education, and policy to ensure that every individual affected by the disaster has experienced a smooth recovery. Nursing professionals can be utilized to communicate to patients, families, as well as other disaster response agencies, in an attempt to enhance nursing practice during disaster response. The role of nurses during disaster response corresponds with nursing practice and public health practices (Satanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Public education is critical in response to a tornado because it would enlighten the residents of Montgomery County on how to mitigate risks during the event. Thus, community health nurses should strive to educate residents on how to avoid health hazards and recover from the loss of their livelihoods. A complete training should be conducted before the disaster, with regard to cultural awareness, risk communication, and special groups.
A tornado can be managed through establishing a standardized and scalable system that supports the public health initiative to disaster response. Emergency Operations Coordination (EOC) offers a significant strategy for informing and directing resources and personnel to areas that require health assistance (“Public Health Preparedness,” 2012). The EOC capability facilitates effective decision making by public health agencies in case of emergencies. The agency activates public health emergency processes in a response to a disaster and organizes the personnel to deal with the affected individuals. In Tennessee, the EOC can work with nurses to ensure that the overall response strategy is followed through Approved Incident Action Plan.
Clinical nurses have a responsibility of ensuring that policy guidelines concerning emergency care are followed. A thorough review of the national policies is necessary to ensure that public health professionals have collaborated to address health problems imposed by the disaster (Veenema, et al., 2016). To prevent loss of lives and property in the future, the county should localize disaster response and ensure that it has collaborated with the private entities in order to have adequate resources to prepare and respond to such disasters. Psychological support is crucial in disaster response, as residents need to be assisted in coping with stress and building their inner strengths during recovery. Psychologists can help residents to seek medical attention if they suffered from physical injuries, which may restrict them from undertaking their daily chores.
Natural disasters, such as tornadoes, are difficult to prevent, but health care professionals can assist in minimizing eminent dangers through the nursing strategies. A tornado can contribute to the multiplication of disease-causing organisms, as well as inflicting mental disorders to the community. Horrific consequences resulting from a tornado may remain in the residents’ memory for a prolonged time, thus, proper health strategies should be established to prevent physical and mental harm. Public health nurses should be utilized to educate residents on emergencies before they emerge, and proceed to advise them on how to recover faster after the disaster. Community health nurses should ensure that the strategies proposed for disaster response are followed and every individual has received adequate health care support for quick recovery. Disaster victims require psychological support to assist them cope with stress and mental recovery.
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Forchuk, C., Csiernik, R., & Jensen, E. (2011). Homelessness, housing, and mental health: Finding truths–creating change. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
Public Health Preparedness: 2012 State-By-State Report on Laboratory, Emergency Operations Coordination, and Emergency Public Information and Warning Capabilities (2012). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2016). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care in the community.
Veenema, T. G., Griffin, A., Gable, A. R., MacIntyre, L., Simons, Couig, M. P., Walsh Jr., J. J., Lavin, R. P., Dobalian, A., & Larson, E. (2016). Nurses as leaders in disaster preparedness and response-A call to action.